Friday, December 30, 2011

Running out of 2011

Most of you are excused from feeling like you need to read this post. It is going to be filled with more inane trivia and such from this year's running events than most people, including runners, can possibly care about.


Note: I'm a tiny bit early with this since I still have one more race to do this year, on New Year's Eve. If I waited to do this after that race, this likely wouldn't get written until the middle of 2012, if ever. (Keep your rude remarks to yourself!)

This was an AMAZING year in running for the Notthats.

The spreadsheet is pretty much impossible to read this year. The one cool thing was that I added a section for The Boy. If he didn't work most weekends, his section would undoubtedly be a lot fuller.

I save all my bibs (including the bonus "bib" I made for the Brazen Dirty Dozen 12 hour run - the handwritten one below 23). Tragically, Mrs Notthat saves almost none of hers.

One thing that sticks out is that there are only three bibs with four-digit numbers - this is because I mostly do trail races and they rarely have more than three-digits worth of runners. My favorite number this year was "88," which others pointed out can represent the mythical "double infinity" if worn sideways (which I of course did). Odd note - the race before this, it was Mrs Notthat's turn to have 88. I was insanely jealous. I couldn't believe I got it the very next race.

Side Note: There has been some debate about what to do with the bibs. I believe they would look fantastic covering a wall in our bedroom, but Mrs Notthat oddly disagreed. There was talk of making them into coasters, but I could never bring myself to cutting them up. Placemats would work though, but who really needs 39 placemats (and that's just for this year)? I'll just keep them hanging from a hook in my office at work. For now. Maybe I can talk Mrs Notthat into giving me a bathroom wall - the bibs are all water proof.

I almost always opt for getting the shirt at the various races, even when I am volunteering and not actually in the race. These are most of the shirts - I thought it would be cool to lay them out in a "rainbow of colors" style, but I didn't want to bother working out the actual order of rainbow colors plus I'm pretty sure rainbows almost never have gray or white.

(Yes, the tan shirt is out of place, but I was not going to shuffle all these shirts around just to put it someplace else almost as dubious. Plus the dog was determined to walk on these, and I needed to get done before they all ended up needing to go into the laundry.)

Cool shirts to point out: Palo Alto Moonlight Run, Brazen Bear Creek, Western States 100 "Official" volunteer, PCTR Skyline to the Sea, and a Marathon Maniacs singlet (!).

Out of the bottom section, Golden Hills, Brazen Bad Bass, Dolphin South End Runners ("Start slowly and taper off" - my racing strategy to a T), Turkey Track Trail, the wildly uncentered Wharf to Wharf, Urban Cow, and Brazen Summit Rock.

One thing that surprised me as I laid these out - there are no black shirts. Last year I got at least three of them.

And then, the bling. A few favorites: the bonus coaster I got from PCTR when I finished the Skyline to the Sea 50K - my first ultra; the hard to see small clay medal from the Turkey Track Trail race in Colorado; the Brazen Dirty Dozen medal that is a medal, coaster, and bottle opener all in one; the cow bell from the Urban Cow Half in Sacramento; and the Brazen Turkey Weekend three for the price of two deal. The stylish arm sleeves were from the Golden Hills Marathon, which did not give out medals, but had these sleeves, a great shirt, and a great goody bag.

Mrs Notthat's medals look a bit different, mostly because she has a lot of age group winner medals (six!) mixed in there. She also got two "medals" that are more like jewelry (Nike Women's Half Marathon and the Mermaid Run) - these are in the lower-left corner of the picture. She also has a bunch of ribbons from the Dolphin South End (DSE) Running Club races, which is a group in San Francisco that put on ridiculously inexpensive and fun races in a variety of city locations on almost every Sunday morning.

My firsts this year:
• First ultra attempt, followed shortly by...
• First DNF (Did Not Finish); the Brazen Diablo Trails Challenge in absurdly foul weather
• First successful ultra attempt (PCTR Skyline to the Sea)
• First race requiring a boat ride (Coastal Ayala Cove on Angel Island)
• First DLF (Dead Last Finish - Coastal Cinderella Marathon), which ironically was also...
• First first place age group finish (sometimes it's good to be in an unpopular age group)
• First out of state race (Turkey Track Trail in Colorado)
• First timed event (Brazen Dirty Dozen 12 hour race), which included...
• First "cookies tossed"
• First night run (Palo Alto Moonlight Run, oddly with thunder, lightening, and rain in September)
• First (and hopefully not last) cowbell medal (Urban Cow Half Marathon in Sacramento)

I ended up running in 39 events, volunteered at 6, and cheered others on at 7 others, making for a total of  52 events attended this year. Yikes! Probably the most stunning accomplishment was finishing six marathon or longer races this year - all on trails. At one point I had done one a month for four months in a row, which got me into Marathon Maniacs (one star, but still...).

I covered a bit over 533 miles in races this year, including 62,446 feet of climbing, all in 139:45:50 (I'm estimating 3:00:00 for my New Year's Eve Half Marathon) - about a 15:45/mile average pace.

Mrs Notthat covered nearly 311 miles, including 24,326 feet of climbing, in just over 72 hours - about a 13:50/mile pace (astonishing!).

The Boy ended up in 9 events covering 76.3 miles with 6,705 feet of climbing (and a mud pit along with other Warrior Dash obstacles) in 14:45:11 - about a 11:32/mile pace (wow!).

And the best thing was no injuries (although there was a scare when I had some knee pain in one race).

Next year should be interesting. I figured I would tone it down a bit, but then I signed up for the Coastal Crystal Springs Marathon (in a bit over a week), I made it through the lottery for Way Too Cool 50K, I need to make a second attempt at Brazen Diablo Trails 50K, I'd love to do PCTR Skyline to the Sea again, and we are hoping to get to go to Pagosa Springs Colorado again for the Turkey Track Trail.

All of that is before July. This is pretty exciting!

That's it - move along...

PS: The following is just for my purposes. They are links to all the posts I did about the various events I was involved in. It's a shockingly long list.

Brazen New Years Half Marathon
Brazen Coyote Hills Half Marathon
Coastal Steep Ravine
Brazen Bay Breeze (volunteer)
PCTR Redwood Park 20K
Brazen Diablo Trails 50K (DNF)
PCTR Skyline to the Sea 50K
Brazen Western Pacific (volunteer)
Coastal Ayala Cove 10 mile
Brazen Wildcat 10K
Mermaid Run (cheerleader)
PCTR Sequoia 30K
Coastal Cinderella Marathon
Apple iWalk 5K
Coastal Horseshoe Lake (volunteer)
Brazen Hellyer (volunteer)
Healing Hearts 5K
Brazen Nitro Half Marathon
GECKO Turkey Track Trail Marathon
Coastal Zombie Runner San Francisco Half Marathon
Western States 100 (volunteer)
Brazen Dirty Dozen 12 Hours
Redwood City Fourth of July 5K
Wharf to Wharf 10K
Brazen Bad Bass Half Marathon
San Francisco Progressive Marathon (cheerleader)
Brazen Bear Creek Half Marathon
PCTR Sequoia 20K
Coastal Zombie Runner Vasona Lake Half Marathon
Palo Alto Moonlight Run 10K and Brazen Drag-n-Fly Half Marathon
Coastal Mt Diablo Half Marathon
Brazen Trail Hog Half Marathon
Urban Cow Half Marathon
Golden Hills Marathon
Brazen Rocky Ridge Half Marathon
Brazen Diablo Adventure Half Marathon
Brazen Nitro Turkey 10K
Brazen Quarry Lakes Half Marathon
Brazen Summit Rock Half Marathon
Coastal Zombie Runner Bay Trail Marathon

Yikes! (If you read this far you have too much time on your hands! But thanks!)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Monday Grab Bag

Catching up on a number of dog and grandkid bits and pieces.

First, a dog update.

Kaya had a ridiculously invasive procedure intended to shut down her puppy-factory abilities. The cone of shame was to keep her from licking the incision. "Keep her calm and NO WALKS for two weeks!" we were told. Keeping her calm is impossible - it would be easier to teach her to manage this blog.

After three days, the cone could come off, which was a blessing for us since she had learned to use it as a weapon.

So we tried the t-shirt trick. My shirts were a bit too big and she kept walking out of the arm holes.

So we tried one of Mrs Notthat's shirts and it fit a lot better. She didn't seem to mind the shirt so much, but by morning it was off and nicely folded in the middle of the living room.

The grandkids and their parents are moving from the duplex they had been in for five years or so to an apartment. The apartment is not dog-friendly, so we have inherited their dog, Dove, for the next six months or so (at least that's the plan - HA!).

When Dove was younger, she was easily Kaya's equal when it came to being an overactive, rambunctious puppy. Now that she's older (she's maybe three or four), she's mellowed. And become the cranky old guy yelling at kids to get off the lawn - she cannot stand Kaya's bounciness.

But they do have their moments of peaceful coexistence, such as when they are plotting to escape through the front gate.

Now for some grandkids.

The grandkids stayed with us for a few days while their parents worked to move into the apartment and clean up the old place.

Grandkid Second Born @ 9:12 AM: "I HATE cinnamon Chex! You can't make me eat them!"
Grandkid Second Born @ 9:13 AM: "This is the BEST cereal EVER!!!"
Me: Massive eye roll that nearly caused an injury.

Grandkid First Born and I decided to try something that I read about on the Internet. (What could possibly go wrong, right?) The idea is to make cupcakes in ice cream cones.

GKFB filled the cups. We had no guidance about how full to make them. And also, I had the brilliant idea to top some of the cones with marshmallows. (The cones were a bit top-heavy which made them eager to tip over. The cupcake pans were really no help. I have a theory about how to better do this in the future what would even include being able to use sugar cones.)

Lessons learned: Only fill the cones a little over halfway and the marshmallow idea was a winner, although it was a bit messy due to the cones being a bit too full (the kids would not try them). And possibly marshmallows about halfway would be fun too. Or maybe M&Ms or other surprise candies.

Neighbor Amles (not her real name) and the grandkids enjoying ice cream cone cupcakes in the backyard.

I have no idea who this woman is, but she apparently HATES leaves. A week ago she was going up and down the street raking leaves from the sidewalk out into the street, with the hope that the city would come by and suck them up as they have every year since we've lived here.

But apparently the city has no money for this, and the leaves in the street are getting stale. So this woman is now filling up her compost bin with street leaves. We have filled up our bin a couple of times now with leaves, but this weekend was reserved for the leaves created by trimming our hedge.

GKSB volunteered to help compress the leaves so we could shove more into the bin. GKSB needs to put on a bit more weight if he really wants to be effective at this.

So skinny Mrs Notthat jumped into the bin. She was much more effective. Granted if I had jumped in there, we probably could have fit twice as many leaves, but I'm not nearly graceful enough to manage that sort of challenge.

GKSB loves winding up the dogs. And the dogs love being wound up by him.

And no matter how soulful and pleading Kaya can make her puppy dog eyes, GKFB wasn't having any of it and did not share her grilled cheese.

And this card that came with an item I ordered online pretty much sums up my thoughts. (Although my thoughts are just a bit ruder.)

That's it - move along...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What a difference a year makes

Mrs Notthat and I ran the Coastal Zombie Runner Bay Trail race last year. Or maybe more accurately, swam it. (The post from that event is here.) This year's edition of the race had two surprises for us: It was dry (if nippy, but I'll take nippy over soaked any day); and it was sold out!

Selling out this race was a bit of a surprise for me - they had just held essentially the same race a bit over a month ago, and, while this is a trail race, it's not the kind that takes you through thigh-busting hills and root-filled forests; it's flat with mostly gravel roads for trails (with a fair amount of pavement, if you like that sort of thing).

Well, actually that probably explains why this sold out - a flat race where you don't have to compete with cars with great footing (even if it rains) is pretty attractive to a lot of people. What made it attractive to me was that it was close to where I live (Google helpfully said to allow seven minutes travel time - REALLY close).

So Mrs Notthat, Weird Haired Mom, and I all signed up, all at different distances, with wildly different finishing times, which meant we each drove our own cars the seven minutes to the parking lot. (Normally we all try to carpool to the races since they are usually at far-flung places in the East Bay that Google only vaguely knows about.)

One thing that made today's a race a bit special was that it was the first race for Lehcar (not her real name), on the right in this picture. She is an avid bike rider (she rode her bike to and from this morning's race - heavy sigh...), swimmer (which would have come in handy last year), and recently, trail runner. What she isn't, however, is fond of organized events like this. But fortunately, peer pressure was skillfully applied by her friend Aras (not her real name either), so Lehcar was standing near the start line, shivering with the rest of us.

Weird Haired Mom did the Half Marathon, Mrs Notthat and Lehcar did the 5 mile race.

Einre (not his real name either - sorry for this, but it amuses me) was also there, joining me in the Full Marathon. He was still glowing from his amazing adventure running the New York City Marathon a few weeks ago. He was also eager to share all the new rude words he learned while riding in numerous taxis and such while there.

Nad was there as well. He's smiling because he knows he's about to rip up this Marathon course (spoiler alert: he did).

WHM had an adventurous morning. Apparently she's been hanging with Ultra Woof (who missed the race due to a sick Spammy) a bit too much - she plugged in the address of the Zombie Runner store instead of the Zombie Runner Race and didn't realize her mistake until she was deep in mysterious downtown Palo Alto. She really did not want to do this race - alert readers can detect her slight lack of enthusiasm in this picture.

Lehcar took this picture while waiting for the 5 mile race to start.

The Half and Full Marathon people started together, and as you can see, WHM blazed to an early lead over me. (As you can also see, I haven't quite made it to the start line and I'm already switching to taper mode.)

This is maybe half a mile into the race and WHM still has a lead on me (she's the one in back there). This is typical of what the trails looked like - gravel, wide enough to easily pass (or get passed), and flat.

Shortly after that above picture, I passed WHM. In this picture, I have looped around the finger of a lagoon - that is WHM in pink in front of a bird viewing building. Note the sunshine and calm water - it was quite cold but very still, which made it reasonably pleasant.

The Duck Pond station (and the 5 mile turnaround point) at mile 2.4. This course had several chunks of out-and-back trails, plus those doing the Full Marathon did two laps and ended up visiting this aid station four times.

There were a LOT of water fowl strutting their stuff out there, making for nice viewing while going around this course.

This bike rider politely waited on the side of the trail as we passed.

Remember when I said it was cold? This puddle has ice on it, and this is at about 10 AM.

The "hill." My favorite part of the course.

As I was heading back, still about 3.5 miles from finishing my first lap, Nad came steaming by. He was flying!

With my first lap finished (under three hours, but barely), I had to bypass the glory of the finisher chute and instead turn around and head back out for lap two.

But not before saying "Hi" to Lehcar and congratulating her on finishing her first race in fine style! Look at that smile - it might be because she is having a great time, but it is more likely because she is done and does not have to go back out for another 13.1 miles like I do.

Lehcar did manage to get a picture of me wandering by a row of porta-potties (YAY!) before I headed back out. (You are welcome to those of you that were worried I might forget to include such a glorious picture.)

As I headed back out, WHM flashed me some secret gang sign and smiled, knowing she was nearly done.

I'm at the Bayshore aid station for the second time, mile 19.5, and I'm showing Htenaj (not her real name) how a zombie would look "running" this race. Sadly, this is also how I was looking at this point.

Htenaj and a lady wearing a tree on her head at that aid station. (Htenaj was the course marker and sweeper.) Weirdly, I wasn't dead (ha!) last, so she was hanging out here waiting for Einre and another runner that had accidentally turned the race into an ultra.

We spend some time going past a golf course. I loved this shot with all those geese clogging up the fairway. I suspect the golfers don't love it so much.

Finally I'm at the last aid station - mile 24.5 (Cooley Landing) - manned by a guy that has read my posts and STILL smiled at me! (Mostly though, the smile was because, once I show up, it means the race is nearly over.) Due to a trail closure, this aid station was not at it's normal point, which resulted in the course being about 250 yards short. The cries of anguish over this shortfall were deafening by their absence.

There's a bridge we have to cross to get out to that last aid station (it's an out-and-back, so we cross the bridge four times). As I was heading back, I could hear what sounded like Niagra Falls and saw that there was this man-made waterfall going on. I'm not sure how many times I've been over this bridge, but this was a first for me - it was kind of cool!

And there's the finish line - for real this time! Mrs Coastal is thrilled to see me (race directors are always happy, and mildly surprised, when they don't have to call 911 to deal with me). Note the speed bump on the trail - this is for YOU, you fast runners!

I was thrilled that the Soup Lady was still there - a large cup of hot soup tasted REALLY good after this race. By the afternoon, it had clouded up and the wind started blowing a bit, making it actually feel colder than it was in the morning.

But what about Mrs Nothat? She, of course, was stunning in her 5 mile race. Lehcar took this picture of her heading back after the turnaround. And that's The Persuader, Aras (with the stroller), just ahead of Lehcar and almost at the turnaround.

Mrs not only finished in fine style, she won third in her age group! Pictured with her is Nna (not her real...sigh) who won second in her age group and sent me this picture! The funny thing is that Nna recognized Mrs Notthat from previous posts - it always startles me a bit when someone comes up and, without a hint of malice, says they know us from these posts. I love that! (The downside is that I am HORRIBLE at remembering names, so I often end up smiling and chatting while desperately wracking my brain for clues as to who this is. Please don't take it personal - I'm just not gifted in that way.)

And that's about it. The race was a lot of fun, well organized, well marked, well aid stationed - I can't think of anything to whine about. (I could whine about the cold, but I just think back to a year ago, and that thought goes away fast.)

That's it - move along...

PS: Here is a link to some pictures I took that have a few snarky comments. And here is a link to many more pictures I took of a lot of the runners out on the course and posted to the Coastal site.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Kaya update: flappy doors, startling noises, and a cone

Here are a few Kaya-based updates that will hopefully make it easier for you to sleep at night. (At least one of them should help us sleep in the morning.)

There has been a bit of progress in getting Kaya to use the dog door. She will now go out the door on her own. She still, however, will not come in on her own - we have to hold the flaps up. (There have two exceptions to this: She came charging in behind the grandkid's wonder dog Dove, who has no problems going in and out the dog door; and she came in once when The Boy dangled his cat in front of the door.)

Since using The Boy's cat as bait is likely unethical and cruel (not to mention dangerous to whoever is trying to hold the cat at the time), we will rely on Dove the Wonder Dog to teach her how to take advantage of the dog door. It turns out that she'll have a lot of opportunity to do the teaching since the grandkids (and their parents) are moving to an apartment that is not dog-friendly, and Dove will be hanging with us for a while.

So, what's the difference between going out the door vs. coming in it? As Old Dog Teddy became a bit more fragile, he wouldn't hesitate to go out the door, but wouldn't come in it unless desperate. The only real difference is that, when you come in, you are pushing two flaps (the main one plus a second one that goes around the outside of it). I can't believe that the dog can really tell the difference, or care, but apparently it's a big deal.

One alarming trend was that Kaya would wake up at about 5 AM and decide it was time for us to be up too. She would come in our bedroom and start pulling the covers off in an effort to get us up. So we started closing our door at night. Her answer was to sit outside the door and whimper pathetically and keep nudging the doorknob.

Our first thought was that she needed to urgently go outside, so I would get up and take her out, where she would start bounding around and try to get a perky game of fetch going. That might have fit her definition of "urgent," but it failed my test.

So a friend at work had a suggestion that he used to train his cats to leave him alone - set up the vacuum cleaner outside the door, and run its power cord to a power strip next to the bed. Now, when the dog starts nudging the doorknob, I can flip the switch and the dog will give us some peace. 

A fear though is that, once she masters the dog door, she will figure out that she can be just as annoying at our bedroom's deck door, and work out that the deck door is not guarded by a frightening appliance. Yet.

One Thursday, Mrs Notthat and I took Kaya to the Peninsula Humane Society to get spayed and micro chipped. Kaya eagerly showed off her private parts in the waiting room - she had no idea what was coming, thankfully, and was not nervous about being there. (Fat chance she will feel that way if we ever have to take her back though.)

This is her with The Boy after all was done. She was pretty drugged up, but still keen on being an exhibitionist. At first, they didn't think she would need one of those cone collars, but within seconds of walking out the door, she started licking at her stitches.

So she ended up with a collar after all. (This is her in the back seat of the car.) That first night was awful - she was miserable and we couldn't do anything to help. When I came home from work, instead of being decked liked normal...

(This is from a movie Mrs Notthat took. Amazingly, I get off easy - The Boy is the one that really gets it when he comes home.)

...Kaya didn't even move. Didn't lift her head. But wow did she whimper.

She would stand up, but act like she couldn't turn her head, and thus, her body. The cone, in addition to the drugs, was really messing her up.

The next morning, she was a bit better, but still a bit disoriented. She knew about the refrigerator though.

I took the cone off for a bit and she was thrilled. She ate breakfast, wandered around outside for a bit, and then started licking her stitches. So the collar went back on.

Today, the collar is still on, but she seems to have adapted to it, and has learned to use it to her advantage. In theory, tomorrow will be her last day with it on. We are going to try a few suggestions that others have made to get her a bit of time free from it before then, but there is a bit of a worry about that - in addition to the collar, she is on restriction from being active. We aren't supposed to even take her on a walk for two weeks. Even with the collar on, she is now as bouncy as ever. When it's off, she's like a tornado that's been held down and is aching to release all its pent-up energy.

I'm not sure the neighborhood will survive once she is really free and able to be herself once again. She's got a lot of time to make up for.

That's it - move along...